Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 18:29 UK
Airline urges liquids review after trial

Tanvir Hussain, Abdulla Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar
The review call comes after three men were convicted on terror charges

Virgin Atlantic says "now is the time" for a review to be carried out of the current restrictions on hand luggage.

Director of communications Paul Charles said people were confused by different restrictions in different airports - including the rules on carrying liquid.

The call comes after eight men were tried over an alleged plot to blow up planes. None was found guilty but three were convicted of conspiracy to murder.

The government said it was "right to continue" with luggage restrictions.

The men on trial had been accused of plotting to bring down transatlantic airliners with home-made liquid explosives disguised as soft drinks.

Three men were convicted of conspiracy to murder at the trial, but the jury did not convict anyone of targeting aircraft. One man was cleared of all charges.


Explosives expert Sidney Alford shows what could happen with a liquid bomb

The court was also unable to reach any verdicts on four other men.

Mr Charles said: "Maybe now is the time for a review to take a look at how appropriate the current rules are for taking liquids on board an aircraft.

"Certainly it's important to have restrictions in place when the country is on the highest state of alert.

"There are different rules at different airports around the world, so it would make more sense to review all of these to make sure there's continuity worldwide."

Sweeping airport restrictions on liquids in hand luggage were brought in following the arrests of the group in August 2006.

The restrictions led to chaotic scenes at airports, with travellers having to queue for hours, numerous flight delays and serious restrictions placed on hand luggage, which only allowed certain items to be carried on board in a clear plastic bag.

Some of the rules imposed then remain the same, including no liquid in containers larger than 100ml. The term "liquid" includes drinks, syrups, creams, mascara, gels and pastes.

Scanning technology

BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds said that senior BA sources would like the restrictions lifted, but only if it was safe to do so.

And they want the rules to be the same across Europe to avoid passenger confusion.

Our correspondent also added that the Department for Transport had been reviewing the restrictions ever since the alarm was raised.

We continue to work with international colleagues to develop technological detection methods which could ease the restrictions
Department for Transport

"They intend to lift the liquid restrictions and are testing scanning technology to see if liquids can be detected and identified by scanners," he said.

Peter Clarke, who was the head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command at the time the plot allegations surfaced, said restrictions on passengers carrying liquids on flights must remain.

"This means of detonation is still in the hands of the terrorists, and so to wind back security, to think of going back to a position where the terrorists could defeat airport security, seems to me foolhardy."

BAA, the UK's largest airports operator, would not confirm whether or not it had made a request for the restrictions on liquids to be lifted.

A BAA spokeswoman said: "The responsibility for determining the ongoing risk to aviation and how the industry responds lies with the government.

"Our job, and that of any airport operator, is to apply the appropriate measures in response to the most recent assessment of the threat."

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to murder but a jury was unable to reach verdicts on the other charge.

Prosecutors have until the end of the month to consider a retrial of the men.

'Aircraft vulnerable'

Despite the verdicts, the government said that limits would remain in place.

A statement from the Department for Transport said: "The court case has proven that a generic capability exists to create liquid bombs from domestic items.

Conspiracy to murder:
Abdulla Ahmed Ali
Assad Sarwar
Tanvir Hussain
One man not guilty
No verdicts on four others

"Aircraft could be vulnerable to such devices so we are right to continue to require restrictions for liquids carried as hand luggage."

"We are also right to require these restrictions internationally as, potentially, we are all at risk.

"Meanwhile, we continue to work with international colleagues to develop technological detection methods which could ease the restrictions."

But as these links did not stand up, the recriminations were beginning, he added.

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